If you missed it, here’s the video of Cal coach Mike Montgomery shoving star scorer Allen Crabbe on Sunday in the Bears’ 76-68 comeback victory over USC. Cal was down 44-32 at the time, and Montgomery didn’t like the way Crabbe was playing …

The San Francisco Chronicle reports today

A shove to the chest from Cal head coach Mike Montgomery 3 1/2 minutes into the second half served its desired intent, to motivate his swingman and rally the troops.

Crabbe, the Pac-12 Conference’s leading scorer, had 14 of his team-high 23 points after being shoved by his head coach as he led the surging Bears to their fifth conference win in the last six games. At 8-5, Cal is tied for fourth in the Pac-12 with Arizona State …

The incident took place during a timeout with 16:31 remaining at Haas Pavilion and the Bears down 44-32. Surprised and upset at being shoved, Crabbe was bear-hugged by teammate Justin Cobbs and walked off the court to cool down. Teammate and friend Richard Solomon then went over to speak to Crabbe.

All told, Crabbe was off the court for 19 seconds’ of elapsed time, during which he paced back and forth by the bleachers on the west side before re-entering the game at 16:19. Full article

Here’s Montgomery after the game discussing what was going on …

We were standing around. No one was ready to play. We were just standing. Allen had come down twice and went to the wrong side of the court and his guy shot two threes and I was trying to get him going. What got over exaggerated was everybody jumping up and grabbing a hold of him like it was a big deal. Probably overdid it a little bit but Allen is my guy. I need him to be going. We can’t win if he is not ready to play. USC’s physical play took us out of the game mentally. I thought we were soft. They were very physical with us. We were frustrated and standing and not doing what we needed to do.

I asked him if we wanted to play. He’s really important to us. Late, he got blocks and rebounds and he was shooting the ball in. Mentally, he just needed a wakeup call.

Here’s Crabbe talking about it after the game …

Coach used his way to motivate me,” Crabbe said. “There’s nothing wrong with it; spur of the moment. He was trying to motivate me. Everything is fine. He’s my coach.

Not everyone was so enthused about the coach’s motivational technique. From a statement by Athletic Director Sandy Barbour after the game …

Sunday’s game was an emotional one for everyone who cares deeply about our men’s basketball program, and the Bears certainly showed tremendous resolve coming back to earn a win over USC. However, it is unacceptable for our coaches to have physical contact with student-athletes regardless of the circumstances. The second-half incident was certainly out of character for Mike Montgomery, and I am confident that something like this will not happen again.

And Montgomery later apologized …

I have great passion for this game and tonight, I let my emotions get away from me in the heat of the moment. While my intent was to motivate our student-athletes, my behavior was inappropriate and I apologize for my actions.”


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor for KQED's daily health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED News Fix.

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